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Rick Barnes discusses the fine line between winning and losing

20200517_134556by:Justin Rudolph03/08/23

It’s conference tournament time in college basketball; the last tune-up before the start of the championship tournament. The Tennessee Volunteers are projected to be participants in the men’s NCAA tournament. But given their struggles in the second half of the season, there is some pause for concern. And head coach Rick Barnes knows those troubles could lead to an early exit this postseason, which is why when reviewing game tape with the team recently, he highlighted to them just how fine the line between winning and losing is.

“One, how fine the line between winning and losing is and how sometimes you get some tough breaks. Other times, you make some breaks,” said Barnes. “But hoping that the mistakes that we made, in certain situations, you don’t want to make those this time of year. And understanding there’s so much that goes into preparation. And like I said, if you ask your team, after every game, I think they would say when they don’t play well, ‘what was your mindset going in?’ I’m telling you, I’ve never had a player say, ‘well, I didn’t think we could win.’ They’ve always said, ‘I felt great; I thought we were ready to go.’ But all I said to them was, ‘Whatever the mindset was at Auburn, let’s not do that one again.'”

Tennessee finished off the month of February 4-5. Things finished much better for the Volunteers than they started. Before back-to-back wins to close the month, the Volunteers endured some crushing defeats, including being on the wrong end of game-winners in back-to-back games.

Barnes says clunker games haven’t affected Vols confidence

Tennessee dominated their two Big 12 opponents this season, Kansas and Texas, but had a few games that were head-scratchers. Those questionable games can be linked back to a number of things, including a consistent battle this year with the injury bug.

“We had one of those that Colorado and a couple throughout the season. But I do know that a lot of what we went through in February, with the injuries, kept guys from getting in a rhythm and wondering. Because they worked so hard, and it’s hard on them when they wanna play more than you can even imagine. But they’ve faced some adversity, and it’s tough. But these guys have been resilient… they’re out here working. They’re going to continue to work. And I do think that we have a confident basketball team.

Unfortunately, due to their loss against Auburn to close out the season, Tennessee missed an opportunity at a double-bye in the SEC tournament after falling to the fifth seed. Still, regardless of where the Volunteers start, it only matters where they finish. And according to Barnes, not only will his team continue to work hard during tournament time, but they will have the confidence to win it all.